Lenten Devotion: Listening to What's Not Spoken
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
“Who touched my clothes?”
This story in Mark’s gospel always evokes a cinematic image in my mind—Jesus is hurrying to the home of an important religious leader whose young daughter is on the brink of death. He walks with purpose, striding through the dusty street. The anxious father beside him, a noisy crowd of people surrounding him, when all of a sudden, he stops. “Who touched my clothes?”
She hasn’t spoken a word—this woman, alone and desperate in her need. For twelve long years she has suffered from an uncontrolled hemorrhaging, spending all her money for doctors who do nothing to help, suffering the judgment of being labelled unclean, required to isolate herself lest others suffer a similar fate just for having had contact with her—or with anything she’s touched.
It seems unthinkable – and yet, there are so many ways that our own world isolates people, rendering them invisible to those of us who rush through our busy days of work and family and church. Culture and social structures teach us, literally, not to see people who have been defined as other and devalued by those with the power to do so.
Jesus could have ignored the woman as he rushed through the crowd—no one else seems to have noticed her. Or he could have chastised her for imposing herself on him, presuming to reach out and touch him, knowing that to do so broke taboos and had consequences for him. But he didn’t do any of those things. He stopped, he sought her out, he listened to her story.
Just as Jesus is present to the woman in this text, he is present to us—but in this Lenten season especially, I am mindful that Jesus is also giving us a model of how we are to be present with each other.
May the Spirit of the One who loves us give us the grace to listen to the voices of those who are silent.
Rev. Dr. Teresa Chávez Sauceda
SFTS Director of Advanced Pastoral Studies
and Assistant Professor of Ministry